- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
She had come too far to lose it all now, and as she saw the jar in front of her, just within her reach, she felt a warm tear trickle down her cheek. Her captor loomed over her feeble body, mocking her pain. Her mind raced to just a month prior, when he was all she cared about.
Acacia had longed for more than her simple, small town life. Though she was beautiful and had more riches than any family in Athens, she was sure the gods had something against her. She could not figure out what it was, though, as she prayed to Zeus daily and pleaded to Aphrodite to find someone for her to love. The weeks would go by, though, and Acacia was left with nothing but loneliness.
Many suitors came to her door bearing gifts, ready to woo the beautiful woman, but every man brought the same sweet aroma of the same flowers and the same sound of the same songs played on the same lyres. She could not be impressed; how she longed for something different, wild, and exciting!
One day at a picturesque sunset, while Acacia was taking her usual walk by the lake, she noticed a dark silhouette riding towards her. Blinded by the sunlight, she squinted to try and recognize the dark figure. As it neared her, she noticed it was someone she didn’t recognize on a dark horse. Her heart raced as she tried to take in the mysteriousness of it all. The horse halted right in front of her, and the man, dressed in all black, dismounted. Acacia instantly fell in love with him. His tall stature, deep chocolate locks, and handsome features were enough to make her feel faint. She knew that Aphrodite sent him; he was the one she had been waiting for.
“Excuse me, Miss,” he said as he walked towards her, “my name is Jacob, and I’m afraid I have lost my way, and I am very tired. Is there any way that you could house me for the night, just until I can gather up the strength to continue on my long journey?”
Acacia could hardly breathe, but as she gulped down her timidity, she answered him in a soft but sweet voice,
“Why – of course, Sir. It would be an honor to have a guest in my household tonight, for I have been very lonely for a number of months. Please, accompany me to my house and join me for dinner.”
“Thank you, my Lady, that is very kind of you. May I ask what your name is, Miss? I won’t want to be calling you simply ‘Miss’ for the next few hours, as you have been more than kind to me.”
She took a deep breath and said, “Acacia.”
“Acacia…what a lovely name,” Jacob said with a smile.
Acacia smiled her striking smile back, and shyly looked away. He helped her on to his horse, and they rode toward her house. A million thoughts were racing through her mind like the rapid wind hitting her face as the stallion galloped. Her heart was beating like a million drums, and she couldn’t stop smiling.
When they arrived at the house, Jacob helped her off the steed, and she hit her leg on something hard and heavy that was hanging on his saddle. She turned around to try and see what it was, but Jacob hurriedly hid the object.
“I…have a delicate…container. It’s for…private matters.”
Acacia smiled, and though suspicious, shook it off. She wasn’t about to blow things with this strong, handsome gentleman by acting apprehensive. She led him into the house without thinking another thing about it.
“I hope I’m not being too much of a burden in your house, my Lady. I’ll try to be as out of the way as possible.”
“No, please, make yourself comfortable. I really haven’t a guest in a while.”
His face showed disbelief as he said,
“Surely a beautiful woman like you receives visitors on a daily basis. I don’t see how over half the men in the city wouldn’t be clawing each other for a chance to court you.”
Acacia blushed and said,
“You really are too kind, sir-”
“Please,” he interrupted, “call me Jacob.”
“All right,” Acacia chuckled, “Jacob, the truth is I haven’t had many visitors that I would actually to see. The men in my city are…sweet, but not at all what I am looking for. They conform too much to society, and never have anything interesting to talk about. If you don’t mind my saying, I would like someone to talk to that’s intelligent! Who’s bold and exciting, and has a streak of… mysteriousness to him. I can’t find that here,” she said as she longingly gazed out her window.
“Well, then, you are definitely talking to the right gentleman. I got kicked out of my house when I was but a very small young man. I just couldn’t fit in to what my family wanted me to be. So, I started off on a long journey to find myself, and to find a woman to go along with me. Since then, I have been to many countries and lands, but, like you, I have not yet found the right person to match me. I doubt at this point I ever will.”
Acacia’s heart melted at his words. What a sincere and honest man she had found! Could he really be the one Aphrodite had sent to her, or was this whole situation too good to be true? She really did not care about the answer, for all she cared about was the fact that she had him, and she never wanted to let him go.
Jacob stayed for a couple weeks, saying he did not want to leave the presence of such an amazing young woman. Acacia lived for him every day, longing to please him and love him as no other woman had before. Day by day she slowly gave herself away to him, to the point where she could not break herself away from him even if she wanted to. As far as she was concerned, she was in perfect bliss.
Citizens in Papagos, the next city over, though, were not so lucky. A young woman had been found dead in the forest, with a gouge the size of two fists in her chest. Her heart had been cut out of her body, and she had been left there to die. The citizens could not figure out how such a happening could have occurred by a ferocious wild animal, so a search was led for her murderer.
When news of this reached Athens, everyone was frightened. Acacia wanted to flee her city immediately, but Jacob persuaded her not to. He was sure that she was just as protected in her own home as she would be in another city, for he was there to defend her. Despite her better judgment, she was convinced to stay in Athens.
One night after dinner, Acacia noticed Jacob looking at her in an awfully funny way.
“What are you looking at me like that for?” Acacia asked with a smirk.
“You are the most gorgeous woman I have ever laid eyes on in my life, Acacia. I hope you realize your beauty, because I really do.”
Acacia did not quite know what to say, besides a quiet and humble thanks accompanied by a blush. Jacob smiled mischievously, and said,
“Do you want to go on a walk?”
Acacia’s heart leaped, as she could swear she knew what kind of walk he was talking about. She consents to his offer, and the two set out on a romantic walk in the moonlight. After a while of talking and walking, Jacob stopped in the middle of the forest. Acacia turned around and whispered,
“What? Why have you stopped?”
His reply was simple: he took her hand and drew her near. He pressed his other hand softly on the back of her neck, and drew her lips in to meet his. Acacia had never felt so alive, so completely off the ground. She felt his warm lips press hers, and the surge of excitement tingled down her body. The chill from the night air pierced her pale skin as their movement became more passionate. She had never loved anyone as much as she loved Jacob.
She broke free from his embrace and faced the pale moonlight as she said,
“Oh, darling, how glad I am that you rode in that sunny afternoon, and that I was the maiden you ran into. How I long to be your everything, and make you happy in every way. Oh! Darling, I have a great idea. Why don’t we get married? Would you like that?”
Acacia waited for his response, but heard none. She thought that he might be asleep, but as she turned around she found different. Much to her horror, Jacob was staring at her creepily, and the last thing she remembered before her sacred world turned dark was a shiny silver object in his hand come hurling toward her chest.
The next thing she knew, she woke up in a silent white room. As she struggled to open her eyes, she noticed she was sitting on a cloud. She looked around her, and her voice echoed as she screamed for help. Suddenly, before her appeared a beautiful woman and a powerful man. Acacia was awe-stricken.
“Acacia,” the powerful man said, “We had heard your prayers. Why were you not patient?”
Acacia’s eyes widened.
“Zeus? Oh, my mighty, mighty, Zeus!” she exclaimed as she fell to the floor. “My heart was aching. I couldn’t wait any longer for someone to come along. I thought Jacob was the one sent from Aphrodite for me.”
The beautiful woman was next to speak,
“Did you not think to pray to us about it? I would have easily shown you that Jacob was not the man for you!” She turned towards Zeus, “I cannot believe he tricked her.”
“Tricked me?” Acacia asked, “What do you mean he tricked me? He loved me! He was honest, sincere, and exciting! And I loved him! Where am I? Take me back to Jacob!”
Zeus answered with a sigh,
“Acacia, Jacob is a very evil, evil man. He had a curse put upon him by Hades, and it has made him a deceitful and wicked. He goes from city to city, looking for the most beautiful women. As soon as he gets what he wants out of them, he cuts out their hearts and puts them in a large jar, which he takes with him everywhere for his pleasure. It is his sense of accomplishment. He is a very sick man.”
Acacia tried to wrap her mind around this concept. How could this be? A man that she thought had so loved her; she believed every lie he had ever told her!
“Does this mean I’m… dead? Are you going to punish me for my naivety?”
Aphrodite smiled and said,
“No, Acacia, because we believe that you have the power to defeat Jacob. You are more independent and powerful than you realize. You have to find it within yourself. And when you defeat Jacob, you will be able to break his jar and get your heart back. We will help you stay alive without it in order to do so.”
Acacia was petrified at the sound of this mission.
“What happens if he finds out I’m still alive? What will he do to me?”
“We cannot answer that, because we do not know,” Zeus said. “But we will do our best to protect you on your mission. Now, no more questions. You need to get out there and get your heart back.”
Before Acacia could say another word, she woke up in the pitch black of the forest, right back where she was: naked, vulnerable, and tricked. Never had she felt so humiliated in her life. She looked down at her chest and saw a flesh-colored scar where her heart was. She could no longer feel it beating, and she felt very weak. She wondered how she was ever going to defeat Jacob in such a state, but put on her dress and took a deep breath. A sparrow flew around her, and flew north. She took this as an omen from the gods, and knew that this was the way to Jacob’s fortress.
She fought her way through thick wood and thorny bushes, until finally she arrived at his dark castle. The sparrow then left her, and it was her duty to fulfill the rest of the task. She climbed up the steep staircase and slowly opened the door. Guards were everywhere, but she managed to get inside. Quickly moving around behind one pillar to another, she made her way towards a grand room, filled with nothing but a throne. Jacob sat upon it. The eyes that were filled with such passion towards the man previously were now filled with anger and hot tears. She saw the jar in his lap, and he slowly handed it over to one of his servants.
“I want this safely in the chamber, do you understand? Nobody can touch this. Put it on the altar, and I will be there in a few minutes.”
Acacia’s blue eyes followed the servant down the long corridor as he left the room. He muttered to himself as he turned left down another long hallway. Her heart raced as she tiptoed down the passageway, following the man. She hid behind a statue as he went through a door, then came out a few seconds later. When it looked like the coast was clear, Acacia made her way through the wooden door.
Inside was a masterpiece to behold. The chamber resembled, or rather was, a huge cave filled with riches. She felt shivers down her spine as the shrieking of bats flying over her head pierced her eardrums. The altar was hard to miss; a large pool of light shone over it, and the jar was on top. She scanned her surroundings, then quietly stepped towards the altar.
“Well, hello there, my precious! So nice of you to visit me in my loneliness!”
Acacia jumped and turned around at the sound of the all too familiar voice. She shook with fear as Jacob approached her.
“Wow, your persistence really inspires me, Acacia. And without your heart, too! I must say, I did not think you had it in you. The gods must find you very valiant to give you power to live. But, just for fun, let’s see how you feel after a good shock!”
He thrust a metal rod into her side and an electrical surge flew through her body. She screamed and fell to the floor in pain. She couldn’t move or feel anything, and felt so completely defeated that she lost all confidence.
“Ha! You thought your mighty Zeus could save you, didn’t you? Why, you don’t even have the power to resist me in the least! All you are is a scared, timid, and desperate little girl who wants a man more than she has self-respect. Isn’t that a shame? Why, I bet you’d die in an instant for a chance to have a man to love! Oh wait, you already are dying, you weak young fool!”
Jacob laughed at her, mocking her pain. Words could not express the hatred she felt in her heart. She did too have self-respect! She did not need a man to love to complete her! Her mind raced back to Aphrodite’s words to her: “You are more independent and powerful than you realize…”
With her last ounce of strength, she got up, took Jacob’s dagger out of his belt, and plunged it through his heart. He looked at her in surprise, then screamed in pain. His shrieks echoed through the chamber as he fell to the ground in anguish, and he died right in front of her. She had defeated her terrorist.
Tears streaming down her face, she ran over to the jar and opened it. Right on the top, still fresh with her blood, was her heart. Her pride and relief overwhelmed the disgust of the reality of the heart, and she clutched it tight to her chest. With a flash of light, it disappeared from her hands, and she could feel it beating inside of her again. She looked up to see Zeus and Aphrodite smiling at her, ready to take her back home. She felt genuinely happy, and knew that all along, the only love she needed and the greatest of all love was the love for herself.